No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2013) explores the complicated history of the suffrage movement in New York State by delving into the stories of women who opposed the expansion of voting rights to women.
Author Susan Goodier makes the case that, contrary to popular thought, women who opposed suffrage were not against women’s rights. Instead, conservative women who fought against suffrage encouraged women to retain their distinctive feminine identities as protectors of their homes and families, a role they felt was threatened by the imposition of masculine political responsibilities.
Goodier details the victories and defeats on both sides of the movement from its start in the 1890s to its end in the 1930s, analyzing not only how local and state suffrage and anti-suffrage campaigns impacted the national suffrage movement, but also how both sides refined their appeals to the public based on their counterparts’ arguments. Rather than condemning the women of the anti-suffragist movement for accepting or even trying to preserve the status quo, No Votes for Women acknowledges the powerful activism of this often overlooked and misunderstood political force in the history of women’s equality.
Susan Goodier is scholar-in-residence at Hamilton College and museum consultant at the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, New York.
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